The Prison Relocation Commission is currently considering four locations for a new Utah State Prison. Our "Political Insiders" and readers are split on where they think the new facility should go.
The four sites under consideration:
Salt Lake City, West of the Salt Lake City International Airport
Eagle Mountain in Utah County
Fairfield in Utah County
Grantsville in Tooele County
We decided to add a 5th choice to the matrix – keeping the prison on the current site in Draper.
The most popular choices were Salt Lake City, Grantsville and keeping the prison in Draper.
Our Republican panelists said the prison should go in Salt Lake City (44%) followed by Grantsville (26%) and keeping it in Draper (26%)
The Democrats on our panel said the prison should remain in Draper (48%) followed by Salt Lake City (30%) and Grantsville (13%)
Our readers overwhelmingly felt the prison should remain where it is in Draper (72%).
Selected anonymous comments:
"Location needs to be where transportation to and from the Courts in SLC can be done with the least exposure to the public and to keep costs low. Only the location in SLC West of the Airport can meet this need."
"There is ample room to build a new prison on vacant grounds owned by the State at the present site. Legislator claims that the 'decision to move has already been made' are meaningless since any decision can be re-voted."
"No one wants it, so it should just go to the place with the fewest angry residents. I pick Grantsville for that reason, but a close second is just leaving it in Draper to stop rocking the boat. As a side note, this whole mess shows how land development interests have way too much influence in the Legislature."
"The is no rational reason for moving the state prison from its current location at Point of the Mountain–except for windfall profits for real estate speculators, incentives for developers, and of course, campaign contributions for well-connected politicians."
"The Draper site would rank #1 if evaluated on the same criteria used to rank the other sites. The 'development' that proponents of the move claim would generate 1.8 Billion is just as likely to happen at other locations near Draper or elsewhere as it is at that specific location. To say it will happen on those specific 700 acres or not at all defies logic. All of the 'prison reforms' that are given as reasons to move could just as easily be accomplished if the prison were rebuilt in Draper. No one asked for the input of the public before the decision to move rushed through at the 11th hour. That is why the relocation committee is getting the public outcry now."
"Despite Mayor Becker's politicization of this issue, the new prison will be best situated near the airport. The prison is sorely in need of being rebuilt anyway, and Utahns will be better off economically as a result of the move."
"Only an idiot would think keeping it in Draper is a good idea. Why is everyone fighting so hard to keep the prison away from them when it would bring jobs? It is not like they let the prisons free at noon as long as they promise to be back by nine."
"Plenty of room to rebuild on site without impacting current operations during construction, and then it's just escort the prisoners to their new cells, not arrange for expensive transport for 4000 prisoners and all their possessions. Just one of the many advantages of the current site over any alternate site."
"It is fiscally irresponsible to move the prison to a new location when there is no guarantee that the current land will be sold at a premium price without tax breaks to lure the companies there. Also, the numbers being thrown around don't seem to take into consideration the extensive road and utility work that would need to be done in the UT County locations to make it even feasible. Not to mention it puts prisoners further from the justice system and health care they are currently connected to. There is plenty of room to rebuild, and it can be done in a fiscally conservative way right there in Draper."
"Don't put the prison anywhere in Utah County, we are still a clean, better county, we do not want to be poisoned with the Gray, depressing shape of a prison on our hills. It should remain in Draper and not ruin anymore societies."
"We all know the deal is done. Salt Lake City will get it–another chance to stick it to the liberal capital city. This commission has been fueled by cynicism since Day 1, knowing full well SLC is the site (and the Legislature made conveniently sure that no commission members represent constituents of any of the proposed prison sites). If that doesn't register as cynical government at work, I don't know what does."
"Draper already has all the amenities needed to support the prison. It is ridiculous to claim that there is not room for this on the site when from an areal view it is quite plain to see. Seriously from a state that built bridges and then moved them into place over 1-15 you now claim we cannot build the prison on the same site while still housing the inmates…give me a break. None of this has been done transparently as claimed, but behind closed doors with special interest. PRC, Governor Herbert and the state representatives…get your heads out of your asses and do the right thing!"
"Why would we want a prison in the middle of a residential county? It needs to be rebuilt, and it should be moved to a rural location."
"Salt Lake County's had it for better than a century. Al those NIMBY's notwithstanding, it seems like it ought to be someone else's turn for a change."
"Utah's citizens will NOT be happy with any move of the Utah State Prison from the current facility in Draper UNLESS it can be conclusively demonstrated that NOT ONE (NONE) of the current legislators will reap any kind of personal financial increase or reward by benefiting from the movement of the main prison facility! It is all too clear that the most strident legislative voices for the move are those who stand to personally benefit (and extremely lucratively, too!) from the move and being able to reward themselves and their 'buddies'!"
"Tooele County officials and residents need the economic boost that the construction and staffing of the prison would bring. The Tooele economy hasn't rebounded as quickly as the rest of the state, especially with job growth. It would be a long-term economic benefit for the county."
"The simple fact that government should be risk averse not risk takers mandates that the prison should stay right where it is. Rebuild/renovate onsite for 1/4 the price of moving it."
"The cost to extend utilities and roads to the other locations greatly outweigh any value in moving the prison from Draper. The Draper site is large enough to maintain the existing facilities while new ones are being constructed. Development is abutting the current site – it is apparently not that bad of a neighbor. The economic development numbers are a sham, development that would occur on the current prison site will occur somewhere else in the area. There is plenty of land in the area for the 'silicon slopes' development with the prison in place."
"If the criteria is: 'where is the best site for a prison?' Then 'west of the airport' is the best site. It is better than Draper."
"I'm going to leave this decision to those who have all the facts, who take the time to study, who were elected to do so. I'm so sick and tired of citizens who think their emotional answer is the right and only answer."
"Keeping it in Draper might not line some pockets but being fiscally conservative should rule the day. Unless that term is just campaign rhetoric?"